You’ve done it. Your elders, your lay leaders, or your staff have gone through the long process and put together a mission statement for your church. It’s perfect. It matches who your church is and gives it direction. It may as well have come down on stone tablets, because it is good.
A few goals are obvious, people should know what the mission statement is and how it guides decision-making. The biggest obstacle is getting people to buy-in viscerally, to be convicted that it is the best mission they could be on together. This is where leadership communication comes into play: when pastors and elders take a concept and make it concrete for their people.
The first step is to preach. There’s an adage out there about something doesn’t really matter unless it comes from the pulpit, and that’s absolutely true. If nothing else happens, the pastor must preach. A new mission statement can serve as a reset, a re-alignment for a church, and that necessitates at least one sermon to explain how it will serve as a compass for the congregation.
A sermon or a series allows the most visible leadership to show the significance and the application of a new mission statement. This puts it on the people’s radar for 30 minutes at a time and explains how the statement came to be, the Biblical mandate to make disciples, and calls the congregation into a greater level of commitment to that commission.
Every single word is debated or deliberated over when it comes to writing a mission statement. That can be frustrating while in the process of making, but it is completely freeing when sharing and promoting it. Why? Because every word is packed with meaning and is there with the greatest intention.
Expand on those various elements and phrases that find themselves purposefully embedded into the mission statement. Create a mini-curriculum that explains why we make disciples, how it’s going to be done, and opportunities to get involved in your church. Give handles for people to understand and navigate the renewed assignment the church has been given. Focusing on the smaller parts adds depth, but being consistent about repeating the statement as whole will make it memorable.
Churches have ten channels that provide excellent opportunities for mission amplification. Those nine are:
- Word of Mouth – Have your staff talk about it when they’re interacting with the congregation
- Sunday Mornings – Include the statement in your announcements and mention it in sermons.
- Print – Insert a two-sentence reminder into your bulletin
- Environments – Display your mission physically on-campus, where everyone can see it
- Website – Make it a tagline on the front page
- Facebook – Share graphics with it quoted, or explain how other events/messages promoted tie back to the mission of the church
- E-mail – This is a subtle drip, but include it in your e-mail signature; share other content that’s related to the mission being lived out
- Blog – If your church blogs, remind the authors to integrate the statement into their articles
- Video – Tell stories of people living out the mission; or use video as a teaching opportunity to explain what it means
- Pray – This isn’t a marketing initiative, it’s the Great Commission, to make disciples, so pray that the Lord gathers his sheep and builds his Church; invite others to pray with you
Invite and Inspire
Private schools and universities have similar hurdles as churches, their constituents are there completely voluntarily, they provide educational content, and they want desperately for people to become more involved. In an ideal world, churches just get to teach the gospel and leave it at that, but discipling people often requires a bit more hands on work. Schools have distilled what’s essential to keeping people around, and they’re immensely Biblical: empower people, get them connected, and put them to work.
Communicating an idea over and over again builds an understanding of it, but inviting people into the reality truth defines solidifies it for them, makes it tangible, and convicts them of a new perspective. So, as you invite people in, give them something to do, and give them the tools to do it. Show them that their work and their involvement has purpose. Leaders have the opportunity and privilege of inspiring their people by showing them what the future can look like when we dedicate ourselves to God’s Kingdom.
Here are a few ideas for how to get people involved:
- Prayer cards – Have members ask themselves who they need to pray for
- Creative ministry prompts – Ask people to think about how they can use their gifts to serve
- Ministry Fairs – Schedule a Sunday for your ministry leaders to showcase their teams and recruit new members
- Missions Projects – Create a church-wide opportunity to serve your community
A Final Piece of Advice
To make money, you have to have money. It often takes initial investment to get a business off the ground; whether it’s covering salaries or purchasing equipment, money is important. This isn’t about church finances or entrepreneurship, however; it’s about the snowball effect: to increase something, you often must have it first. So, how do you create buy-in? Have buy-in.
Before launching a church-wide initiative about your mission statement, identify influencers in your congregation. These are the people who are in official and unofficial leadership positions. Joe may be an elder, but Sam has the people’s ear. Both need to be at the table.
Share with these people the mission statement, the explanation of it, and the ways it can be put into practice, etc. Anything you want to lead the congregation into, do it with this group first. Include them in the process, accept their feedback, tweak processes where necessary, and show them that they’re valued. This will create a united front when presented to the congregation, and there will already be experienced individuals in the congregation that can help lead it.
Jethro’s leadership advice to Moses is helpful: create tiers of leadership, then manage through them. In this case, leadership is already established, and the campaign initiative is flowing from the top down and affecting everyone, because everyone is represented and connected.